Bmobile partnered with Colleges Invitational for a second consecutive event, which brought international coaches to T&T to scout local talent, for a shot at professional contracts and scholarships.
The event, titled “All Star Tournament”, kicked off on Saturday at the Hasley Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, with over 200 players vying for opportunities and $65,000 in prizes.
The initiative officially commenced “off-field” on Friday though, with an international symposium at Kapok Hotel, Maraval, and ended on Sunday with a Pro and Colleges Combine Day.
The action-packed weekend allowed the international coaches on hand — Brynjar Thór Gestsson of Iceland, Staci Wilson of the USA and T&T-born, US-based, Fabien Lewis — to see the immense talent available in T&T, of which they were extremely pleased.
Gestsson is head coach of Icelandic club Throttor Vogum while Olympic medalist Wilson, who was mainly scouting female players, represented six colleges.
Speaking on behalf of bmobile, head of marketing Camille Campbell explained that the company was once again pleased to partner with Colleges Invitational as they felt the initiative was aligned with the goal of the bmobile Foundation which aims to positively contribute to sustainable youth development and it would serve to benefit a number of talented young people.
“The development of youth, sport, education and health are of course the pillars of the bmobile Foundation and we believe Colleges Invitational achieves these goals,” said Campbell.
“Bmobile is therefore pleased to be a part of this initiative which promotes the holistic development of young people, while creating opportunities for them to enhance their sporting skills and education.”
Campbell noted sport remains a unifying force in T&T and hoped more such initiatives would be forthcoming.
If it were up to Gestsson, such would definitely be the case, as the Icelandic coach did not hold back his excitement as it relates to the talent of the local players he observed.
Gestsson said he was quite surprised at the high level of skill displayed by the young players and lamented the fact that more coaches from Iceland were not visiting more frequently to acquire talent for their leagues.
“To be honest, it's actually a lot better than I expected. No disrespect, it's just that I see these young players here; the pace of the game that they are offering at this level, at this age, it's really good, I'm really happy with what I am seeing,” said Gestsson.
He added: “I am coming from Iceland and I would want to see more coaches come down here to see what's happening.”
He said there were many opportunities available in Iceland, with over 300-400 foreign players participating in Icelandic leagues, and based on what he has seen in T&T, many of the young players were at a much higher level than many of those presently competing in his home country.
Oxbridge University coach Wilson shared much of Gestsson's sentiments and even went a step further, praising the local coaches.
St Augustine Secondary, Diego Martin Central Secondary, St James Secondary and St Joseph's Convent PoS were the participating female schools, with St Augustine being coached by former national player, Shenelle Warrick.
“What I've seen so far I think is fantastic,” said Wilson.
She continued: “The players seem to have the right attitude and a lot of drive and athleticism out there. Some of the coaches seem to have a good style about them and I'm really impressed with a couple of the coaches who are coaching the girls' teams, seems like really quality soccer they have them producing and seem to be very strong role models for the girls.”
Also lending support to the event over the two-day period was Minister of Sport Daryl Smith and national football captain Maylee Attin-Johnson.
Both praised the organisers of the event, with Attin-Johnson viewing it as vital for the future development of football in T&T, citing the fact that most of the players she leads would have benefited from the American college system through football scholarships.